As the deepest offensive pool in baseball, the outfield has top-end talent and an abundance of exciting prospects. It’s a constantly changing landscape as veterans and prospects move from the infield on a regular basis. Many fantasy leagues try to balance this with a fourth or even a fifth outfield slot in starting lineups. Having an elite outfielder still has value, but the depth here provides plenty of flexibility.
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- The top of the dynasty outfield rankings are as strong as ever with young superstars Julio Rodriguez and Ronald Acuna Jr. I’m giving the slight edge to Rodriguez due to age (he’s three years younger), but you can’t go wrong with either. Acuna saw a huge power drop-off in his first season back from an ACL injury. His 2.8% home run rate and .148 ISO were both the worst he posted in his career. He still posted elite hard-hit and barrel rates, as well as strong exit velo numbers, suggesting he should return to form. As for Rodriguez, he lived up to every ounce of hype and then some. Like Acuna, he rips the cover off the ball, resulting in an .856 OPS with 56 extra-base hits and 28 steals as a rookie. If he avoids the dreaded sophomore slump, Rodriguez will be among the few legitimate 30-30 candidates and the ceiling could be even higher.
- In OBP formats, Juan Soto has an argument for the top spot. Even in a “down” 2022, the 24-year-old posted a .401 OBP with 27 homers while leading the MLB in walks for the second straight year. As expected, his underlying numbers pop off the page. Soto boasts the best chase rate in the league while crushing the ball and rarely whiffing. With a full season in San Diego, expect him to get back into the 100-100 territory with an elite OBP and a floor of 25 homers.
- Hot on Soto’s trail is Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez. The injury concerns are fully in the rearview mirror as he’s racked up over 550 plate appearances in each of the last two seasons. Alvarez produced a career-best .306/.406/.613 slash line with 37 long balls, resulting in a top-3 MVP finish. The 25-year-old (yes, only one year older than Soto) lefty has one of the most impressive Savant pages you’ll see. He trailed only Aaron Judge in categories like average exit velocity, barrel rate, and xwOBA last season. Alvarez also comes with an elite walk rate while managing his swing-and-miss stats. With one of the nastiest swings in baseball, expect him to finally cross the 40-homer threshold in 2023.
Remember that one time Yordan Alvarez walked it off against the Mariners in the ALDS! pic.twitter.com/0UFdbUJrDA
— The Texas Baseball Report (@TxBaseballRpt) December 30, 2022
- The White Sox have a pair of Tier 3 outfielders with Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez. They have the potential to be one of the best duos in all of baseball but neither has been able to stay on the field enough. Jimenez is more of the prototypical slugging corner outfielder but he may strictly serve as the DH moving forward and fall off this list. His elite barrel rate and exit velocity are a testament to his hit tool and allow him to unlock his game power. Robert’s home run ceiling is lower but he adds the speed element. He has 25-25 potential and should provide an above-average slash line at the very least. Robert has done well to cut back on the strikeouts but still has a chase issue. Byron Buxton is another Tier 3 star that can’t stay healthy. This trio has combined to play just 47% of their teams’ games over the last two years. Any of these three, most likely Robert, could jump to Tier 2 with a healthy 2023.
- Though Corbin Carroll is technically still a prospect, he’ll pass the rookie limits within about a week of the 2023 season. Therefore, I’m considering Jordan Walker as the top prospect on this list. Drafted as a high school third baseman, Walker began transitioning to the outfield in 2022 to expedite his bat to the majors. He’s steadily climbed industry prospect rankings and has arguably the most polished bat in the minors. Walker has slashed .310/.388/.525 with 33 homers, 56 doubles, and 36 steals through 201 career MiLB games. There may be an opportunity for the 20-year-old to make the Opening Day roster. If not, his much-anticipated debut should come early this summer.
Now this, is a work of art 🎨
Jordan Walker makes a visit to space with this homer 🪐 @Cardinals @MiLB @MLB @MLBNetwork #AFL22 pic.twitter.com/IrgczSCJe0
— MLB's Arizona Fall League (@MLBazFallLeague) October 29, 2022
- The 2022 MLB Draft provided plenty of interesting college and prep outfielders. 10 of those players made this list, headlined by Druw Jones. We’ll finally see him in action this season after he underwent shoulder surgery in August but the 19-year-old has the makings of a potential superstar. Not far behind him is the very-projectable Elijah Green, followed by Chase DeLauter’s polished college bat. These players all make for intriguing FYPD targets depending on your team’s timeline. Some outfielders from last year’s draft that didn’t make this list but could see big gains in 2023 include Justin Crawford, Sterlin Thompson, and Ryan Cermak.
- Masataka Yoshida may be the toughest player to rank, which is common with MLB-ready international signings. The projection systems expect him to hit the ground running with an .800+ OPS. With near-guaranteed playing time as Boston’s leadoff hitter, it’s worth the investment to see if Yoshida lives up to the hype.
- Speaking of hard-to-rank players, what are we supposed to do with Cody Bellinger? The hope that his MVP version reemerges has mostly vanished but can he at least get back to being an above-average outfielder? In another brutal offensive season, Bellinger bounced back slightly with 19 homers and 14 steals despite an ugly .654 OPS. His defense should keep him in the lineup to maintain the counting stats, but another down year could be the final nail in the coffin for his fantasy value.
- For years, fantasy managers were waiting for a Jesse Winker breakout and he finally provided one in 2021. Unfortunately, it was short-lived as he was traded to Seattle, costing him the Great American Ball Park boost. After another offseason trade, Winker gets to play at the hitter-friendly American Family Field where he’s slashed .344/.440/.591 in 32 career games. Combining that with some expected BABIP rebound and 2023 being his contract year, Winker makes for a very interesting target this offseason.
2023 Fantasy Outfield Dynasty Rankings
|5||Fernando Tatis Jr.||SDP||24.3|
|11||Michael Harris II||ATL||22.1|
|83||Josue De Paula||LAD||17.9|
|88||Bryan De La Cruz||MIA||26.3|
Are you buying in on Tyler’s favorite bounce-back players? For more great analysis check out the 2023 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit!